The Millions Most Anticipated Book of 2020!
“Beauty is beautiful in the way of a scalpel blade. It’s that sharp and precise, that lacerating, that true.”
–Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Hours
What is your novel about?
It’s about a woman who goes into the fashion industry, but the narrative encompasses the arc of her life and her evolving understanding of beauty, family, sexuality and power.
What were your book launch plans pre-Covid?
I had 20 book events planned (another 10 in the works) and a book party that was being hosted by fashion designer Anne Fontaine at her Madison Avenue store. We had 10 contributors for Beauty swag bags (we planned for 200), including lovely gifts from Sabon, Anne Fontaine, Rituals, Jolie Tea Company, and more. It was like planning a wedding, so I feel pretty heartbroken about it.
Where were you when you heard your book tour/ launch was cancelled?
Quarantined at home with my children. I have a child who is fragile medically so I took them out of school as soon as I got back from AWP. My apartment faces the Hudson River. When my editor called, I just stared out the window and tried to let go of the disappointment by feeling how beautiful the river was.
Are you and your publisher doing anything special/ different to promote your novel?
I’m reaching out to different platforms who have offered to help first. For example, I did a FB live interview with Robin at Reading with Robin.
Can you tell us bit about the path to writing and selling your book?
I took my time researching this novel and even signed up for a shoemaking class. I loved it so much that I design one-of-a-kind couture boots and shoes. At the moment, I’m working on a collection of shoes for women who are making a difference in the literary community. They will reflect the authors’ individual personalities. When complete, the exhibit will be titled, “Stand.” My novel took 14 years to research and write to my satisfaction. My agent had difficulty selling it so I sent it to a contest being judged by Gish Jen because I know and love her work. Beauty won the contest. It is the grand prize winner of the James Alan McPherson award.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals?
I don’t write every day but when I do, it’s usually in the middle of the night when no one is awake. There’s a different kind of energy. It’s calmer and I can focus. Sometimes my kids get up for breakfast and I’m still at the computer. When they go to school, I meditate by listening to music that allows me to fall asleep. When I’m up through the night I usually nap for an hour; sometimes two. Oh yeah, I need potato chips to be able to write.
What was the hardest cut you made from your book, your favorite Dead Darling?
I had a chapter that eventually got cut during which the protagonist goes to see a Chinese double feature with her parents in Chinatown. She’s 5 and has with her a “Hawaiian” Barbie named Gail. She’s uncomfortable because the theater is hot and smoky. It bothers her that people are cracking watermelon seeds and eating dried plums. The first movie features Gong Li, a famous Chinese actress her mother adores. The protagonist falls asleep. During intermission, however, the theater runs a porno. (Chinese theaters in NYC actually did this in the 1980s) The girl wakes up and sees it.
Where can we buy your novel?